February: background checks, gun sales in review
It’s not unusual for the gun industry to see a boost in sales during February and this year’s trend proved no different as dealers moved an estimated 1.2 million firearms — a 23 percent increase over the month before.
In fact, the only year to witness a dip in February’s federal background checks — and by proxy, gun sales — came in 2013, as hysteria of impending gun regulations in the wake of Sandy Hook tapered off.
Despite indications of a slowdown in December and January, however, applications processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System crept up more than 190,000 in February, averaging nearly 79,000 checks daily all month long.
The National Rifle Association pointed to the upswing as proof the “Trump Slump” doesn’t exist, while gun control advocates and media reports of a recalibrating industry spread nationwide.
While still 17 percent behind last year, the biggest days of 2017 thus far came when dealers processed 377,625 background checks over a three-day span, from Thursday, Feb.23 to Saturday, Feb. 25.
Only one other day so far this year has exceeded 100,000 checks: Friday, March 5.
“Comparing current data to the record high points doesn’t prove that sales have plummeted; it does indicate that the number of background checks performed – and so the number of permit applications and/or firearms purchases – is still at near-record levels,” the NRA said. “February 2017, one of the months cited as proof of the “Trump Slump” was actually one of the 15 busiest months ever for background checks.”
Just a day before the sharp increase in background checks, 51-year-old Adam Purinton opened fire on two Indian nationals inside Austin’s Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas, killing one and wounding two others.
Several witnesses told investigators they heard Purinton yell “get out of my country” before firing.
A Guns.com analysis of daily background checks uncovered a pattern of applications bottoming out on Sundays and rising throughout the work week until peaking on Friday. The impact of current events or politics on background checks, however, doesn’t always manifest in the data in the immediate aftermath of an incident, if at all.